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Josh Mandel Gets Schlonged

Anatomy of a failing suck-up.
by Jim Swift
April 15, 2022
Josh Mandel Gets Schlonged
(Composite / Photos: Gage Skidmore / Flickr / GettyImages / Shutterstock)

Ohio’s Senate primary is a little over two weeks away and while the MAGA field has been split, Donald Trump has finally picked his horse, endorsing former author, former professional Never Trumper, and current Thiel protégé J.D. Vance.

Vance has been the favored choice of the MAGA elites to this point, with Tucker Carlson gifting him hours of free air time and MTG going all-in. But none of it has really worked with voters. Vance has been stuck in either third or fourth place while other MAGA celebrities have endorsed his opponents. Josh Mandel, for instance, has been endorsed by Madison Cawthorn, Michael Flynn, and Ted Cruz. And the current frontrunner is Mike Gibbons, a Cleveland businessman.

In the early days of the race, Mandel was expected to dominate, and he did. He’s a prolific fundraiser, a successful statewide candidate (minus his Senate runs), and tenacious. And then, Mike Gibbons and J.D. Vance muddied the waters. Muddying it further were longshots such as Jane Timken, the former head of the Ohio GOP, and Matt Dolan, one of the owners of the Cleveland Indians/Guardians.

As the race progressed, Mandel’s early lead shrank, and eventually, Gibbons was able to take a consistent, though small, lead.

Mandel clearly hoped for Trump’s endorsement, since he had led from the opening bell—and despite his reluctance to get on the Trump train early, he chose to be the craziest Trumpian sonofabitch in the race.

But maybe he went too Trump? Mandel was more of a Trump sycophant than anyone; to the point where it became a bit unsettling. Even Trump himself thought Mandel’s still-mysterious disappearance and even-more-mysterious subsequent divorce, combined with his obsession with Trump, was creepy. Mandel has long been a ladder-climbing opportunist, but when even Donald Trump thinks you’re a weirdo, it might be time to rethink your life choices.

How far did Mandel go? He got himself kicked out of an RNC fundraiser in Florida, when he went to represent grassroots MAGA against the MAGA swamp.

He went to Florida for an Apprentice-style meeting with Trump, along with other Ohio senatorial candidates. In a debate he even said he’d do anything (anything?) to get Trump’s support. Mandel’s campaign has three “policy” pillars: He says he’s pro-God, pro-Guns, and pro-Trump.

It’s pretty tough when you get one leg of the stool kicked out from underneath you by the big orange fella’.

Jim Swift

Jim Swift is a senior editor at The Bulwark.